Merch Mariner’s Son-Meso Award $9.936M

$9.936M Awarded to Son of Merchant Mariner for Household Exposure to Asbestos

45-Year-Old Man Diagnosed with Mesothelioma in 2007, 35 Years After Exposure to Asbestos Dust on Father’s Work Clothes

BALTIMORE, Md. – January 27, 2010 – A Baltimore City jury yesterday awarded $9.936 million to the son of a merchant mariner who suffers with mesothelioma as a result of being exposed to asbestos dust contained in his father’s work clothes more than three decades ago.

The plaintiff, Leroy Conway, Jr., was just ten years old when his father went to work aboard the S.S. Baltimore Trader, an oil tanker owned and operated by ATTRANSCO, Inc., During the elder Conway’s 1974-1977 tenure as an engineman on the vessel, he worked in areas known to contain asbestos, and his uniform would become laden with asbestos particles and dust. Over a three-year period, his young son was exposed to the deadly asbestos that permeated the father’s work clothes, which were laundered in the family’s home.

The younger Mr. Conway, now a 45-year-old husband and father of three children, was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma in May 2007. He has undergone radical surgery to remove a lung, and is unable to work.

The jury found that ATTRANSCO acted with negligence in its duty to warn and protect its workers – and by extension, their families – from the harmful effects of asbestos and asbestos-containing products installed on their vessels. ATTRANSCO was the sole defendant in the case.

Witnesses for ATTRANSCO, which included the captain of the S.S. Baltimore Trader during the time in question, admitted that it was known that asbestos was present on the vessel. However, it was stated that neither the company nor the captain were made aware of the dangers of asbestos until 1980 at the earliest, and therefore could not have been responsible for Mr. Conway’s injuries.

The jury rejected the defense argument, agreeing with plaintiff that ATTRANSCO should have known of the hazards of asbestos and acted to protect workers well before the elder Conway’s tenure on the S.S. Baltimore Trader. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) commenced regulation of asbestos exposure in 1971, and the harmful effects of asbestos had been documented by industry as early as the 1940s.

Mr. Conway, along with his wife, Yolanda, and mother, Berlena, traveled from Texas for the 10-day trial. Mr. Conway and his mother both testified. Mr. Conway’s wife was too grief stricken to sit on the stand. All three were in court when the verdict was read. The jury awarded Mr. Conway $9.3 million for pain and suffering, and $636,688 for medical expenses. “We’re very pleased for the family,” said Scott Frost, WK partner and lead counsel for the case, “Leroy is facing a terminal diagnosis, and his family is facing an uncertain future. The jury brought a measure of justice to the Conways today.”

About Waters & Kraus, LLP

Waters & Kraus, LLP, is a plaintiffs’ firm concentrating on complex product liability and personal injury/wrongful death cases. The firm’s diverse practice includes toxic tort (asbestos and mesothelioma) litigation, pharmaceutical product liability, negligence, consumer class actions, elder financial abuse, and consumer product liability, as well as qui tam (whistleblower), and commercial litigation. With offices in Maryland, Texas, and California, Waters & Kraus has litigated cases in jurisdictions across the United States on behalf of individuals from all 50 states as well as foreign governments.

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